Israel sold $5.7 billion in military hardware in 2015

Defense industries mark slight increase compared to 2014; nearly 50% of contracts went to Asia, Pacific

The IAI Super Heron (screen capture: YouTube)
The IAI Super Heron (screen capture: YouTube)

Israel’s military export contracts topped $5.7 billion in 2015, a slight increase from the year earlier, the Defense Ministry announced Wednesday.

Despite concerns expressed by the heads of Israel’s four largest defense contractors at the end of 2015 that defense exports could drop to a decade low, sales rose slightly compared to the year prior.

Israeli defense industries had signed deals worth a total of $5.66 billion in 2014, a marked decrease compared to 2013’s $6.5 billion.

“At the end of a challenging year, and with joint determined work, we managed to keep the level of contracts signed stable,” Mishel Ben Baruch, director of the International Defense Cooperation Directorate, said in a statement.

The largest portion of the military exports was upgrading aircraft and aerospace systems, comprising 14 percent of all new contracts, with radar and electronic systems coming in second with 12% and UAVs at 11%. The bulk of the exports were to Asia and the Pacific, comprising nearly 50% of the total earnings, $2.3 billion; with Europe coming in second at $1.6 billion, according to the specifics released by directorate.

Among the high-profile arms deals was Israel’s sale of 10 armed Heron drones to India for $400 million.

The data on Israel’s arms sales came out a day after the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published a report which found that global military spending rose in 2015 to nearly $1.7 trillion, the first increase in several years, driven by conflicts including the battle against the Islamic State group, the Saudi-led war in Yemen and fears about Iran.

Israel’s expenditure increased by 2.6% in the past decade, but declined relative to its GDP over the same period from 7.5% to 5.4%. The steady rise in Israel’s military budget ranked it as the 15th largest worldwide in 2015, at $16.1 billion.

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